At 22 years old, Chris Tanev has been almost living the dream. Called up for 29 regular season games and five playoffs games last year, Tanev names his first game of the Stanley Cup Finals as his favorite and most memorable hockey moment. A quiet, cool, calm and collected player and person, Tanev was small and undrafted. But he has grown in size and character, leaving a huge impression on the Vancouver Canucks organization.
Tanev played with the Canucks in the 2011-12 pre-season and for the first three regular season games. He was not playing up to his usual standards and was sent to the Canucks’ affiliate team, the Chicago Wolves. It was the right thing to do at the time; the Canucks were over the 23-man roster limit with Aaron Rome’s return and Tanev’s waiver exemption made him a good player to send away. With the Wolves, he would have more consistent ice time and a chance to grow further as a player.
“It’s hockey, it’s a business, you’ve got to get over things pretty quickly,” Tanev told the Vancouver Sun. “I wanted to stay with the team, but things happen, I am happy to be here now and I am going to try and take advantage of the opportunity.”
With the injury to Sami Salo, Tanev is now back with the Canucks. Although he saw a lot of time with Keith Ballard last year, he is paired with Alex Edler and is one of Canucks’ top four defenders. The team and management obviously have a lot of faith in him and a lot of expectations.
“I am looking for a little bit better stability with the puck,” said head coach Alain Vigneault to the Vancouver Sun. “Our whole defensive group here has been making some plays that have cost us quality scoring chances against that we need to get under control.”
Playing with Edler, Tanev is sure to see a lot of playing time in the offensive zone. Perhaps he is playing with Edler to prepare for the future. With a high salary, little ice time and controversial play, trade rumors about Ballard have been floating around for a while. It is possible that the team will trade Ballard and are preparing Tanev for the future in which he will play in the top four with Edler. While Salo is good, his time in the NHL will be over soon, and having Tanev will provide reassurance in times when Salo may be injured or need a break.
Tanev is the future for the Canucks. If they continue giving him experience in the NHL, which he is no doubt ready for, he can be a star defender.
Lately the Canucks have suffered from inconsistent, stupid plays by the defensive group as mentioned above by Vigneault. Before the playoffs, the team needs to figure out exactly who their top six defenders will be and make sure that they have the depth needed to go all the way. Depth – you hear that word all the time with the Canucks. Hopefully calling up Tanev will help contribute to that area of need.
“He’s a special player,” Ryan Kesler told NHL.com last season during the playoffs. “He’s very steady back there and calm under pressure.”
He has the respect, the patience, the skill, the team and the chance he needs be one of the best. What’s next for Chris Tanev? A Stanley Cup would be nice.